Nutritionist Bri Beaudoin and her food-photographer husband, Anguel Dimov, are the Vancouver duo behind Evergreen Kitchen, a popular food blog that focuses on healthy vegetarian recipes. Their first cookbook, Evergreen Kitchen: Weeknight Vegetarian Dinners for Everyone, hit shelves last month.
Spaghetti and meatballs is a bona fide classic. But can I let you in on a secret? I’m there for the meatballs. These veggie “meatballs” are so good, they can stand on their own. Broiling the eggplant and mushrooms quickly adds flavour and draws out excess moisture. Serve these with freshly made garlic bread and the best marinara you can get your hands on. These meatballs freeze well for make-ahead meals. And heck, if you still want spaghetti, these would taste great with it too.
Meatless Meatballs With Garlic Bread
1 pound cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
8 ounces globe eggplant, peeled and diced (2 ½ cups)
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
5 unpeeled garlic cloves
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup quick rolled oats
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, with more for garnish
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 cups marinara sauce
Finely grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
1 demi-baguette (or ½ regular baguette)
3 garlic cloves
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
For the meatballs
Place the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and set to broil. Set aside two large baking sheets; line one with parchment paper.
Scatter the mushrooms, eggplant, and onion on the unlined baking sheet. Place the unpeeled garlic cloves on a small piece of foil and set it on the baking sheet. Drizzle two tablespoons of the olive oil over the vegetables and a little bit over the garlic. Wrap the foil tightly around the garlic. Toss to coat the vegetables, then sprinkle with the salt. Broil on the upper rack until the vegetables are browned around the edges, 8 to 12 minutes, stirring halfway through. (Watch carefully, as broil times vary.) Remove from the oven and open the foil so the garlic cloves can cool slightly. Set the oven to 425°F. (You’ll want the oven at the correct temperature to bake the meatballs.)
Scrape the broiled mushrooms, eggplant, and onion into a food processor. Add the oats, parsley, nutritional yeast, tamari, oregano, and pepper. Peel the garlic cloves, and using a fork, mash them on a cutting board, then add to the food processor. Pulse until the mixture is almost fully pulverized but is not yet a paste (flecks of parsley should be visible), scraping down the sides as needed. Scatter in the panko and pulse just until mixed.
Scoop three-tablespoon portions of the eggplant mixture (about the size of a golf ball) onto the lined baking sheet. (You should have about 20 balls.) Using dampened hands, roll each portion into a smooth ball. Generously brush the meatballs all over with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bake on the upper rack until the meatballs are firm and golden, 25 to 30 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through for even browning.
For the garlic bread
Cut the baguette in half crosswise, then slice each piece horizontally in half, so you end up with 4 pieces of bread. Place the garlic cloves on the cutting board, then sprinkle with the salt. Using a fork, mash the garlic into a paste. Transfer the paste to a small bowl, add the olive oil, and stir to mix. Arrange the bread cut side up on the unlined baking sheet and brush with the garlicky oil. Bake on the lower rack until golden brown around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes.
In a small saucepan, heat the marinara sauce, stirring occasionally, over medium heat. Cover with a lid so the sauce doesn’t splatter. Divide the marinara among bowls. Top with the meatballs, Parmesan, and parsley. Serve with the garlic bread.
To freeze the baked meatballs, let them cool completely, then freeze on the baking sheet until they are firm to the touch. Transfer the meatballs to freezer bags or airtight containers and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, place the frozen meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a 250°F oven until warmed through, about 20 minutes.
Excerpted from Evergreen Kitchen: Weeknight Vegetarian Dinners for Everyone by Bri Beaudoin. Copyright © 2022 Bri Beaudoin. Photography by Anguel Dimov. Published by Penguin Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
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